- Nominee, Truer than Fiction, 2014 Independent Spirit Awards
- Golden Gate Award, San Francisco Intl. Film Festival
- Documentary Award, Center for Asian American Media
THE LAST SEASON
Amid the bustling world of Central Oregon’s wild matsutake mushroom hunting camps, the lives of two former soldiers intersect. Roger, a 75 year old sniper with the US Special Forces in Vietnam, and Kouy, a 46 year old platoon leader of Cambodia’s Khmer Freedom Fighters who battled the brutal Khmer Rouge, come together each fall to hunt the elusive matsutake mushroom, a rare mushroom prized in Japanese culture and cuisine. However, the pair discover more than just mushrooms in the woods: they find a new life, and livelihood; and a means to slowly heal the scarring wounds of war. Told over the course of one matsutake mushroom season, THE LAST SEASON is a journey into the woods, into the memory of war and survival, telling a story of family from an unexpected place.
Every September over 200 seasonal workers, most of them Cambodian, Lao, Hmong, Mien and Thai, set up a temporary camp near the tiny town of Chemult, Oregon. They remain until the first snowfall, searching the lush woods of Klamath County for the rare matsutake, a fungus highly prized in Japan.
Elderly Roger Higgins is a Vietnam vet who returned from the war traumatized and alienated. “We couldn’t get a job, so we made our own jobs. I would get out there in the woods and just work.” Kouy Loch is a Cambodian immigrant whose experience as a starving slave laborer under the Khmer Rouge taught him the foraging skills that now afford him a living. The men cemented their relationship years before over the shared pain of their Southeast Asian experience, becoming almost like father and son as they traipsed through the trees together. But Roger is too sick to do much hunting this year, and Kouy must walk the forest on his own.
THE LAST SEASON contrasts the past with the present, the camaraderie of the mushroom hunters’ camp with Higgins’s remote home in the woods and the hope of a yearly treasure hunt with the vagaries of climate and falling prices. The result is a poetic film about friendship, nature and life.